Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for June 19, 2013


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for June 19, 2013

DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis Indicted

After a dramatic January search of the home of DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, District Attorney Robert James unveiled yesterday a 15-count indictment of Ellis. Ellis was arrested, posted bond and was released. Here is a link to the AJC’s copy of the indictment.

Counts 1 and 2 allege that Ellis committed Theft by Extortion by pressuring CIBER, Inc. and an employee to contribute to his reelection campaign, threatening to end business between the company and DeKalb County and threatening the employee that he would contact the company to complain against the customer service she provided and that would cause the company to lose future business with the County.

Counts 3 and 4 contain similar allegations of Theft by Extortion concerning Power and Energy Services, Inc., alleging that business between the company and the County was threatened, alleged instruction by Ellis to a county employee to ensure that the company received no future orders. Count 5 alleges an unreasonable restraint of trade against Power and Energy Services. Counts 6 and 7 accuse Ellis of Criminal Attempt to Commit False Statements and Writings, falsely writing in the vendor file for Power and Energy Services that the company failed to return phone calls and of instructing a subordinate to do the same.

Count 8 alleges that Ellis instructed subordinates to use meeting agendas and county vendor lists to compile campaign solicitation lists while on County time, charging this constituted Theft by Taking. Count 9 alleges Theft by Taking in requiring a county employee to deliver those lists to Ellis off County property so Ellis could make solicitation calls off-site.

Count 10 charges that the compilation and delivery of solicitation lists by county employees while on the job constituted Conspiracy to Defraud a Political Subdivision. Counts 11 and 12 contend those actions also constitute Coercion of an Employee to Give Anything of Value for Political Purposes.

Count 13 alleges that Ellis instructed an employee to ensure that National Property Institute, LLC did not receive any county contracts in retaliation for their failure to contribute to his campaign.

So, my tally of the transactions comes to two shakedowns, of CIBER, Inc., and Power and Energy Services, Inc.; one set of campaign contribution soliciation lists prepared and delivered by County employees on County time; and one act of retaliation against a vendor who rebuffed campaign contribution solicitations.

The ironic thing is that one of the counts included having campaign contribution solicitation lists that were allegedly compiled illegally to an off-site location so that Ellis wouldn’t be making solicitation calls on county property.

And then, there’s this:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in February that nearly 40 percent — almost $600,000 — of the campaign cash Ellis collected had come from firms that either worked, or wanted to work, for the county.

Ellis told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he is innocent of the charges, saying,

“I do want to make one statement emphatically to the good people of DeKalb County that I’ve done nothing wrong as I’ve said from the very beginning. Done nothing wrong and I would never, ever, ever do anything to violate the public trust,”

I believe that under Georgia Code §45-5-6, Governor Nathan Deal will next appoint a review commission including Attorney General Sam Olens and two “public officials who hold the same office” as Ellis; the commission may be appointed after 14 days pass from the Governor’s receipt of the indictment.

The review commission has 14 days to report back and recommend whether or not the Governor should suspend Ellis. If the commission recommends suspending Ellis, Deal may do so until the criminal case is concluded or Ellis’s term of office ends, whichever comes first; the current term runs through 2016. If suspended, Ellis will continue to be paid, and DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May will fill the vacancy.

If suspended from office, Ellis will join five members of the DeKalb County Board of Education on the bench, after Gov. Deal suspended the members following the placement of DeKalb schools on accreditation probation.

Johns Creek City Council votes to investigate Mayor Mike Bodker

The Johns Creek City Council voted 5-0 with one absence to hire an outside lawyer to investigate Mayor Mike Bodker for unspecified actions.

After the regular agenda was completed Monday night, the council members announced an executive session and retired to deliberate. After about 45 minutes they returned and Councilman Randall Johnson made the announcement that the council would appoint an attorney from a firm outside the city to, “Investigate certain actions by the mayor.”

The vote was 5-0 to appoint an investigator. Councilwoman Kelly Stewart was absent on vacation.

Bodker had recused himself from the meeting once he discovered the purpose of the meeting. Bodker was invited to stay for the executive session, but reportedly declined saying he would not be present without being represented by legal counsel.

After the meeting, Bodker said he did not know what prompted the charges.

“I can tell you that anything I have done as mayor has solely been to do what I thought was in the best interests of the citizens of Johns Creek,” he said.

Bodker previously announced he will run for reelection in November.

Congratulations in Loganville

Jay Boland won a special election for City Council by 167-116 votes, while Dan Curry, who previously held that seat, was elected Mayor. The death of Mayor Ray Nunley from cancer in April set off these elections.

Chickens Come Home to Roost in Marietta

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners granted the first backyard chicken permit to an Austell family.

Although the property is less than a quarter-acre lot, with a slight hill and little vegetation, the county code allows a pathway for residents who live on less than 2 acres to have hens.

In February, the Board of Commissioners decided to allow small lots to contain one hen per 5,000 square feet, with no roosters, on a case-by-case basis.

The 3-2 vote, with Commissioner JoAnn Birrell and Chairman Tim Lee opposed, is the first time this process has ended with approval.

The split vote is not a perfect solution, since the zoning ordinance requires Rzentkowski to keep the 5-foot-wide coop within 10 feet of his house.

This limited space restricts Rzentkowski’s plan for a movable coop that allows the chickens access to fresh grass and to fertilize the entire yard.

He told the board he wanted approval to reposition the pen anywhere in the back of the property, as long as it remained 10 feet from neighboring property lines.

Asked about the continuing prohibition on roosters, Former Governor Foghorn Leghorn Roy Barnes said, “I say boy, I say….”

Eleventh Congressional District

Republican Tricia Pridemore named Kim Gresh as her Campaign Chair. Gresh is president of S.A. White Oil Co. in Marietta and was named Marietta Daily Journal Cobb Citizen of the Year.

Steve Forbes visited Buckhead yesterday to stump for his fraternity brother and friend, Bob Barr. Coolest thing about Forbes? This Capitalist Toolbag he carries. Also cool, he took some time to talk with some members of his fraternity who attend Southern Poly and stopped by to visit with two of their alumni. TFM.

Forbes Capitalist ToolbagNow we need Tinfoil Contact Lenses for our kids?

The Polk County, Florida school systems used a private company to scan the eyes of students, a program sometimes touted as allowing instant tracking of students and enhancing school safety. Parents were notified and allowed to opt-out their children, but didn’t receive the notice until biometric data had already been collected. Is it a coincidence that Florida adopted Common Core?

GAGOP Chair Padgett meets with other Southern state chairs

Georgia Republican Party Chair John Padgett met yesterday with other state party chairs in Birmingham, Alabama. GaPundit awarded Padgett +1 for wearing suspenders, but noted he could have earned another point if they buttoned on instead of what appear to be clips. Three points would have been awarded for a seersucker suit and white bucks.

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